By Tyler Buchanan
Ohio Capital Journal

Will Congressman Jim Jordan contest Gov. Mike DeWine in 2022?

Answer: If I were a betting man – and I am – my money would be on Jordan not jumping in the Ohio governor’s race. Will someone else primary DeWine? Possibly, it just may not be Jordan.

Jordan, R-Urbana, has been privately mulling a run for governor, according to reporting from and elsewhere. It is unusual for an incumbent governor like DeWine to even be facing conversations about a contested primary, but the intense criticism from Republicans for his handling of the pandemic has perhaps opened the door for a conservative challenger.

President Donald Trump added some fuel to the fire with a recent tweet targeting DeWine’s reelection efforts. DeWine was a co-chair to Trump’s Ohio campaign and has defended the president repeatedly in 2020, but his acknowledgment of Joe Biden’s victory was evidently enough to warrant this from President Trump: "Who will be running for governor of the great state of Ohio? Will be hotly contested!"

Which brings us to Jordan. Most can agree he is one of the few Ohio Republicans with the name recognition and fundraising capability to even give this serious consideration.

DeWine has been in elected office since the Jackson Five was still releasing studio albums and raised more than $20 million for his first gubernatorial campaign. Since 1980, DeWine has a 19-2 record in elections. You have a better chance convincing DeWine to give up watching baseball than beating him at the polls.

If Jordan’s social media activity is any indication, he’s at least flirting with the idea of a 2022 challenge: "Starting Thursday in Ohio: Walk your dog at 9:59 p.m.? Covid free! Walk your dog at 10:01 p.m.? 90 days in jail."

The calculation comes down to this: Would Jordan rather attempt a Republican Party primary against DeWine for governor or stick it out in Congress?

Consider that Jordan has become a nationally-known figure in Republican politics for his attack dog style and avid support of President Trump. A frequent guest on Fox News and other national media platforms, Jordan has elevated his profile across the country. He is headed into a new congressional term with a Democrat controlling the White House. That would seem to give him plenty of material in the years ahead.

There’s also the matter of comparing the executive branch versus the legislative branch. Be honest for a moment. Who has been under the most scrutiny during the COVID-19 pandemic: Gov. DeWine or an Ohio member of Congress such as Bob Latta or Marcy Kaptur? That’s no knock on them or the legislature’s role. It’s just the nature of our political system.

Which is to say, it’s one thing to fire off tweets from an office in Washington, D.C. after winning your eighth-straight blowout victory to Congress. It’s another thing to wake up early for daily pandemic conference calls, prepare for twice-weekly press briefings and make life-or-death decisions affecting millions of Ohioans. I’m not saying Jordan would not be up for that task. I’m just offering a hunch as to which option most politicians would choose.

Maybe I’m wrong and Jordan does jump in. It’s possible Jordan could give the governor’s race a shot, then back out and retreat to a congressional race again if the momentum isn’t there. After all, he does not necessarily have to worry about the political ramifications of challenging DeWine. His congressional races are never close, and it is tough to imagine a new Ohio delegation map for 2022 (and the decade beyond) that would make his electoral chances any more difficult.

Nor should he be concerned about losing donor support in Ohio. Jordan rakes in tons of money from around the country. In the final weeks of the 2020 campaign season, Jordan’s committee spent more than $40,000 on a Facebook advertisement soliciting donations from coast to coast. Just 4% of the hundreds of thousands of users who saw the ad are from Ohio.

My money is on him sticking with his current seat, but we shall see,.

Tyler Buchanan is an award-winning journalist who has covered Ohio politics and government for the past decade.